Value Your Ignorance

September 8, 2016


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

Emily Willingham is the guest on Point of Inquiry this week, discussing the myths and stigma surrounding medical cannabis, and showing how both sides of the debate are trafficking in misinformation. (Willingham and host Lindsay Beyerstein will both be speaking at Women in Secularism 4 this month!)

In the new Free Inquiry, Leah Mickens picks up where she left off, surveying humanists’ leading role in major social changes, and focuses now on little ol’ us, the Center for Inquiry — especially our work on the international stage:

Since most societies typically grant special privileges to one or two particular religions, the people most often punished by blasphemy laws are other religionists, whether those belonging to the majority group who profess a different opinion than the religious establishment or members of unpopular minority sects. Nonetheless, the danger that blasphemy legislation poses to humanists, atheists, and other unbelievers in many countries of the world is very real. Confronting it is an emergent challenge for CFI. 

Also in Free Inquiry, Shadia Drury grapples with the worldview of Fox News, writing, “In the world of Fox, the evil of the enemy is incomprehensible and totally gratuitous—like the Devil’s revolt against God.”

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination says that the state’s new transgender non-discrimination law can apply to churches when those churches are serving as “public accommodations” and involved in secular events. 

Muhammad Syed says the media screwed up: Abid R. Qureshi is NOT the first Muslim nominated to a federal judgeship. 

The Church of Denmark loses thousands of members following an ad campaign by the Danish Atheist Society. Of course, I hear that Denmark’s a prison. But if so, then the whole world is one. A goodly one.

The British Humanist Association says that among the hundreds of UK state schools who have been subsumed by “multi-academy trusts,” many are being converted into religious schools

Geoffrey Kabat at Slate castigates the World Health Organization for promoting “traditional medicine,” aka alt-med, aka crap:

For powerful WHO member states like China and India, promoting traditional medicine appears to be a means of showcasing their distinctive national heritage. While traditional practices may be valued for their cultural significance, in the modern age, where people’s health is at stake, they need to have evidence to back them up. Unfortunately, rather than help the relevant communities to assess these practices, WHO is caving in to lower standards and putting people at risk.  

David Koepsell says that when it comes to both cherished beliefs and our best scientific understanding of reality, failure is healthy:

I have long insisted (to a fair amount of opposition) that to remain philosophically and scientifically valid, humanism must be seen largely as a method, not some set of axioms or beliefs. At any one time, while we may generally accept some similar set of hypotheses within humanism, we must also hold them to be contingent. “What is the good” is a properly philosophical question we can examine, and “it is good to be compassionate” is a logically possible hypothesis, but it must remain open to testing and falsification, else it becomes a religious belief.  

The one time George Carlin was known to censor himself was over a mass-death joke that would have aired in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The material is only now being released. 

The Saline Atheist and Skeptic Society in Arkansas seeks permission to erect a literal “Wall of Separation” near the State Capitol. 

Those Cosmonauts like to mix a little Jesus into their space travel. And one of Russia’s state news agencies sure seems to be concerned about space aliens.

Quote of the Day

Star Trek is 50 years old today. The best Star Trek is of course Deep Space Nine, so let’s give the QOTD to then-Commander Benjamin Sisko, describing linear and corporeal human existence to the wormhole aliens: 

ALIEN: You value your ignorance of what is to come? 

SISKO: That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you either with weapons or with ideas, but to co-exist and learn.

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Photo credit: ariel.chico via / CC BY-NC-ND

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